Third Shot Drop

Drive for Show, Drop for Dough

May 02 2024

The pro pickleball game is becoming faster and faster, and third-shot drops are becoming less common. On the PicklePod, pro Zane Navratil admitted that he drops the ball about “zero percent” of the time.

Instead, he focuses on hybrid drop/drives (about 40 percent of the time) and drives (about 60 percent of the time).

This might be where the pro game is headed, but we are not pros. Us mere mortals should still rely heavily on drop shots because they can help us in so many other areas of our game.

Before you abandon the drop for good, consider these benefits:

Drops help you get to the kitchen

A higher-arcing shot takes longer to reach your opponent than a straight-line drive — that’s just science (or math, we’re not sure). The biggest benefit of using a third- (or fifth- or seventh-) shot drop is that it gives you time to get into a more neutral or offensive position for the next shot.

Drops cause problems for opponents

In amateur play, drives are used a lot. So, many players have developed effective counters and know how to aim the ball back at your feet. A drop shot forces them to make a different decision and, depending on its placement, can put them back on their heels or even force them to hit up on the ball.

Forcing your opponent into an uncomfortable position could lead to a popup for you or your partner to put away. At the very least, a well-struck drop will hardly ever hurt you.

Drops pull your opponents out of position

Drops allow you to hit more angles against your opponent because they are less likely to carry out of bounds. When you drop the ball into the corner of your opponent’s kitchen, you force your opponent to go wide, and if their partner isn’t moving with them, you can create a nice gap in the middle to exploit on subsequent shots.

After they return your drop, you’re forcing them to work hard to get into a better position.

Regardless of what you may have heard, the third-shot drop is not dead. It’s alive and ready to help any time you call on it.

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